Being a farmer doesn’t mean I’m less of a girl/woman. It is hard to say what I am, being 31 doesn’t qualify me as a woman because I look like a 20 year old (at least that’s what I think, on a good sunny, my hair does exactly what I want day) but am not a girl anymore either, I’m married after all…
Being a girl in a men’s world makes it even harder. It wasn’t easy in college and university, being in a classroom where they are just one or two other girls, out of the 40 guys; it is even harder in the real world.
First off; they (the men) do not believe you… Imagine going into a meeting about management and hoof trimming, they think you are the wife of a farmer, and believe me that is by far, the best category you can fall into. So… you do not qualify as somebody with any kind of knowledge or expertise, so they think they do not have talk about cow stuff with you. And so you sit alone in a meeting until you find a sweet farmers wife OR heaven forbid another girl/woman that IS a farmer herself!
Second; they do not take you seriously.
When they do find out you are the farmer instead of the farmer’s wife, girlfriend, or bunny hugger, maybe they will talk to you and ask you some serious questions. And I have to admit the “older” gentlemen amongst us seem to be much MORE acceptable of a women then the younger generation. Wonder why…
Mostly it starts with talking about calves, maybe every girl or women is supposed to like small animals? And I have to admit, I think they are really cute, especially when I see them at somebody else’s farm!
Third; they are scared.
When you are milking over 2000 cows and you just started, never milked a cow of you own in your whole life before. And you are able to make deals they haven’t been able make with all their manly powers, and you are enjoying yourself immensely, I can understand why some men are a bit afraid of you.
Of course with social media coming up it is much easier for me to get some really good feedback, we pose ourselves on the internet, on twitter ,facebook or any other media and most people assume you are a guy, so they will talk to you and answer your questions and value you opinion. By the time they figure out you are a woman, most do not really care no more because they see you as a person with a reasonable opinion and some (I hope) decent advice.
But luckily for me we are blessed with great guys here in Indiana! They are maybe a bit scared, wary and a bit suspicious at first but that is ok! If you do not know me, or any other girl or woman that shows up at your door step and starts talking about milk quality, conception rates, breeding possibilities and the quality of the crops last year, I would be a bit confused too! But almost all the men I have met since we have moved to this great country have proven to me that there is a way for somebody new no matter if you are a boy or a girl, from China, Africa or the Netherlands, to get accepted here into the dairy industry. And I am most grateful for that.
I really think that if I would have stayed in The Netherlands it would have been different. Most Americans tend to be much more open minded and acceptable to change then they think they are!
Of course everything has to come from two sides but I am really happy with the men I have met in de dairy industry so far.
I didn’t tell you about the advantages yet, and wherever there are disadvantages there are advantages!
I never have to wait in line going to the bathroom when we have a meeting. I usually do not have to work the evening or night shift. And heavy lifting, some sweet guy who sees me struggling will rush over and take over. Also most of the men are really polite and even if you make them really, really mad, they still are nice or at least try to be really nice.
And sometime a little smile and a wink can make life so much easier….
Together you can get things done that at first may seem impossible.
So Wednesday nights I will lay down in my bathtub, get a good scrubbing, put some girly clothes on (not the coveralls rubber boots and a hat), blow-dry my hair and put some make-up on to watch America’s next top model and think about the past week and about all the wonderful men I have in my life, who I work with and who I respect. I have to admit, it is pretty SWEET being a girl in a men’s world!
Window of opportunity....
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